An Introduction to Reusable Menstrual Products

Females must deal with menstrual products from an early age. Some girls start their period as young as nine years old. Menstruation can continue past the age of 50 in many people. Disposable tampons and pads make menstruation less complicated for active women. The expense and impact on the environment, however, can be severe. Many women also suffer from discomfort or allergic reactions with extended use of disposable products. Reusable menstrual products are better for the environment, help save money, and increase comfort.

Menstrual Disc

Menstrual discs fit directly under the cervix and collect the same amount of blood as five tampons. They look like a small, flexible bowl. You place them high up inside the vaginal wall in an area called the fornix. This is the widest part of the vaginal wall, allowing plenty of room for this flexible disc. The material used for menstrual discs is medical grade silicone. You must sanitize them in boiling water between your cycles.

On medium or light days, these discs often last about 12 hours before you must rinse and reinsert. Discs may be complicated to use on heavy days, especially if you are at work or school. It is not convenient or sanitary to remove and rinse a cup in a public bathroom. You must also be comfortable inserting the disc on a regular basis. Reusable discs cost about $40 and last for several years. You can accomplish medium-impact exercise and enjoy sex with your menstrual disc in place, as well.

 Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups work like the disc, as they collect blood in a silicone container. Manufacturers also boast a collection amount equal to five tampons. The muscles of your vaginal wall keep the menstrual cup in place. The main difference between the cup and the disc is the placement. The cup sits further down in the vaginal canal. This can be easier for some women to insert. There is also a tab on the end to make removal easier.

The cup is flexible and made of medical-grade silicone, as well. Since the lower part of the vaginal wall is narrow, the menstrual cup is more elongated than the disc. The rim is also smaller in diameter. You cannot have sex with a menstrual cup in place. Heavy days require more frequent changes, and the cup is messy when you are not at home. Monthly disinfection is necessary, just like the disc. Prices for menstrual cups range from $15 to $40. Always check the materials to get the safest one.

Period Sponge

You wear a sea sponge like a tampon. You can leave the sponge in during sex; however, you must change it out more often than other options. It is common to change these more often than tampons. You must prepare the sponge with water to soften them up before use.

Cleaning is easy with soap and water.  Do this before the first use and each time you reuse one during your period. These sponges did live in the ocean, after all. No one wants sand or other debris in their vaginal canal. With proper care, they can last up to 6 months.

Proper storage is key to make your period sponges last. You must store them in an anti-bacterial solution, such as tea tree oil or vinegar. You need several sponges to get through your period. They cost about $30 for a package of 2 sponges. They come in different sizes to fit your unique anatomy, as well.

Reusable Tampon Applicator

Plastic is extremely hard on the environment. A lot of it is not recyclable and production causes air pollution. Manufacturers of disposable tampons sometimes offer a cardboard applicator for environmentally savvy women. These can be uncomfortable, however.

You can now purchase reusable tampon applicators in every size. This makes it easy to accommodate both your heavy and light days. Use this applicator with any applicator-free tampon. Pair it with organic, chemical-free tampons to keep yourself and the environment safe.

The reusable tampon applicator consists of a product called Mediprene with medically safe Sanipolymers on the interior. The Sanipolymers ensure the applicator stays sanitary for many years. Some companies guarantee a lifetime of safe use. Reusable applicators cost about $30 each.

These products work well for women that prefer a smooth applicator for their tampons. You can remain environmentally friendly while getting the comfort you need. A waterproof pouch is helpful if you must carry your applicator with you to work or school. It can be awkward to rinse your applicator in a public bathroom. This can also expose you to unwanted bacteria.

Period Underwear

If you want to stick to your normal clothing routine during menstruation, period underwear makes the most sense. There is nothing extra to insert into your body or to wear in your underwear. The absorbent material is a part of the underwear. Most are thin, however, considering the purpose. Purchase different thicknesses to use on heavy and light days.

Flannel is the material used in the underwear to replace a pad. This may get too warm on a hot day, leading to discomfort an odor. Change more often to avoid these issues. Wash your period panties in cold water and hang to dry. Heat damages the absorbent layer.

Heavy day period underwear holds about 3-4 teaspoons of blood. Period underwear can be bulky on heavy days and difficult to change at work, as you must take off other clothes to get them off. Light day underwear holds about 1-2 teaspoons of blood.

If you only go through 2 tampons during a workday, you can wait to change until you get home. You can spend anywhere from $30 to $40 for a quality pair of period panties. You can find many popular styles, including bikini, hipster, and boy shorts.

Sanitary Pads

Most of us have heard the stories of our grandmothers using old rags for their periods. No one wants to go back to leaky rags that do not stay in place. The invention of disposable pads gave women the freedom to enjoy life at any time of the month. They take a toll on the environment, however.

Modern reusable pads are incredibly efficient and comfortable. They usually consist of layers of bamboo and flannel. The exterior is waterproof to keep your underwear dry and clean. They have “wings” that snap under your underwear to keep the pad in place.

You can find these made from manufacturers, as well as by creative individuals. There are hundreds of pads to choose from on Amazon and various Etsy shops. Expect to spend an average of $15 to $30 for a package of four. A waterproof zipper comes with most purchases. This makes it easy to change pads in public areas and bring the soiled pad home.

Women with sensitive skin benefit the most from reusable pads. The soft material eliminates chaffing and exposure to chemicals used to process disposable pads. The pads are easy to wash and reuse for several years. Exercise may be less comfortable with any type of pad, however.

Reusable menstrual products limit the amount of plastic and chemicals in the environment. They are also better for your body. You make a positive change even by using these items part-time. You can use disposable products while you are out of the house, and reusable products at home. Organic products also leave less of a mark on the environment. Reusable menstrual products can be more comfortable, safer, and more economical. Last but not least reusable products saves you money.


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